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What are Licensed Real Estate Salespersons

Updated on January 22, 2013

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Buying and selling homes, office buildings and properties involves dealing with industry standards, government regulations and financial contracts. The process is fraught with peril for individuals who do not perform it everyday. Licensed real estate salespeople handle this complex transaction so that it is accurate and legally binding for both buyer and seller.

What They Do

Licensed real estate salespersons handle the process of buying, selling and renting buildings, rooms and land for both owners, and those needing the property. They determine a competitive sales price by examining comparable sales, list property on multiple listing services and answer inquiries on it. They then hold open houses so other agents and potential buyers can view the property, and take a client to tour a property he may want to buy. They negotiate offers and fill out all the necessary paperwork so that the transfer of property meets all legal and industry requirements.


All states mandate licensing for real estate sales agents and brokers. Although requirements vary by location, those in California are typical. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and be legal residents of the United States but necessarily of the state. They must also disclose any criminal convictions throughout their entire history. The following college level courses must be successfully completed: real estate principles, real estate practice, and one from a list that includes appraisals, property management, real estate finance, general accounting and escrows. Lawyers who are members of the state bar need not complete the courses. Applicants must then pay a fee and take an exam. They must answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass.


Real estate brokers run their own businesses and can hire sales agents. Their licensing requirements differ slightly those of sales agents. Using the California example once again, brokers must be at least 18, legal residents of the U.S. and disclose any criminal convictions. They must complete seven college level courses including real estate practice, real estate finance and appraisal, general accounting, business law, office administration, and mortgage loan brokering. They need a minimum of two years of full-time licensed sales agent experience, or may substitute that experience with a four-year degree. They must then pay a few and complete an exam with at least 75 percent of the questions correct. They may also re-take it for free within two years.

Outlook and Salaries

From 2010 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed real estate sales agents are expected to see job growth of 12 percent while for brokers, it’s 8 percent. Compare this to the projected increases of 14 percent for the average worker. Population growth will be behind the need for more real estate but the economy will affect opportunities. As of May 2011, agents earned a mean $51,170 per year, or $24.60 per hour. Brokers averaged $83,830 yearly, or $40.31 per hour.


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    • vespawoolf profile image


      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Another interesting addition to the series. I've always been impressed by how much this field pays!

    • beingwell profile image


      5 years ago from Bangkok

      Very informative hub, alocsin! I doesn't sound easy to be in this line of job.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Jellygator, I was reading an article in Bloomberg Businessweek how one reason agents still thrive in the Internet age is that they do a lot of hard 'human" work that computers can't.

    • jellygator profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I've been a Realtor since 2004, and I love it. However, one thing I'd like to point out is that taking the classes and becoming an agent is just one tiny slice of the pie when it comes to being a successful agent. The coursework doesn't teach a person how to market, how to generate leads, and how to work with people who get frustrated with the process. The courses teach the real estate laws. I often have to interact with government agencies to make things happen, scour out hidden information about a property, or find ways to help buyers get qualified when lenders are telling them "no." I didn't get that knowledge from any coursework!

      A couple of the books you've recommended offer some great techniques on some of this stuff, and I recommend "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" to anyone wanting to get into this business, but also be aware that no single book will make you an overnight success, either!

    • sharingknowledge profile image

      SHAR NOR 

      5 years ago from Miami, FL

      Real estates is another great biz many people have turned into real jobs. This is a good Hub with regard.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      5 years ago from Asia

      Another interesting hub. A friend of mine did something similar to that, she retrained as an auctioneer for both houses and personal property.

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful!

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good to hear that things are heating up in Arizona, NMLady.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good to have a real estate professional reading my real estate hubs, MarleneB.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      I have been in the real estate industry since 1989, and a broker since 1993. It's a wonderful industry. I've worked with many people who are still clients/friends to this day. Great information about the industry.

    • NMLady profile image


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Real Estate sales are up 25% in Arizona. We are doing quite fine here right now. Housing prices are also coming back nicely. Commercial R/E is also building again. I made my living doing commercial R/E. Nice article.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My dad owned his own Real Estate Agency and was a broker. My mother also got her real estate license since she worked in the office with my dad...primarily doing paperwork. He was also a home builder. They were a great team!

      I would no more consider buying or selling a house without the aid of a real estate professional than flying a plane without lessons or a license. There is so much that they can help you with to help aid the process plus avoid potential and expensive pitfalls.

      With the downturn in the economy and the foreclosure crisis of the last few has been a tough time for many real estate agents. Of course some parts of the country are doing better than others.

      Up, useful, interesting votes and will share.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      I was a licensed real estate agent in Maryland in 1994. I lasted less than a year because I didn't really have the marketing personality, no contacts, and was trying to do it part-time. In Maryland, you didn't need college courses before taking the certification test. All we had to do was take a course given by a licensed real estate agent who was working for Century 21. The course included all of the topics you mention in this hub, and I believe it was only a 2-3 month course meeting once or twice a week in the evenings. I found real estate very hard making money, even harder than marketing hubs and making money on Hubpages. Voted up as having very useful information and sharing with followers.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      Useful information. Here in India, many illegal Real Estate Salespersons are working and we need to a strict policy in this regard.

      Voted up and shared with followers..

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I remember seven years ago this was a really growing career in South Florida. Now, it is one that you really have to do your homework to keep competitive. It is great when the economy flourishes. Wonder what they commission is now days on sale of homes? Very well done, Alocsin.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I always got something new every time I visit your hub. Keep it up, brother. Thanks for share with us. Voted up!


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      5 years ago from USA

      Buying a house is a scary prospect, since most people don't do it very often, and having an agent to help make sure you do everything you need, in a timely fashion is key.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Interesting hub and info. My brother moved house a couple of years ago, so we had to deal with real estate salespersons or estate agents as we call them over here, great info for anybody needing their assistance, voted up and shared, nell

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tough times right now, but there is still money to be made in the right areas of the country. Very interesting, Aurelio!


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